Category Archives: preserves

Marmalade (Makes: 3/4 jars – Preparation time: +4hrs)

Seville oranges are in season right now so it is time to roll up your sleeves and make Marmalade!  I learnt a couple of things last week, firstly that Seville oranges have a short season from the end of December to mid-February, and secondly that there is a high concentration of pectin (natural gelling agent) in the pith and seeds of citrus fruits.  What this means is that to make marmalade you only need 3 ingredients and decent amount of time on your hands.

Now I confess before I embarked on making Marmalade last weekend I gave Mummy Mortimer a ring to see if she had any top tips. Her advice was to cut the oranges in half and to cook them first in a shallow pan with a little water to soften the rind.  It was a great shout and meant that I could make the marmalade in two stages and the rind was incredibly easy to cut into slivers.

My tip is to put at least 4 side plates in the freezer for testing when the jam has reached setting point.  When you think the jam is ready to test – spoon a small amount onto one of the plates and place back in the freezer for 1 minute and then push the marmalade gently with your fingers to see if the jam wrinkles.  If it does then you will know that it is ready, if not keep boiling.

The beauty of making your own marmalade is that you can adjust the balance of sugar in the recipe to suit your own palate.  I personally prefer a sharp marmalade so I work on the following ratio 750g sugar to 1 litre of liquid and then add more sugar as needed.

The process of making marmalade whilst lengthy is very easy and I recommend you giving it a go if you can get it your hands on some Seville oranges.  At the end of the process you’ll have at least 3 jars which you and either keep and enjoy over the next few months or give to friends and family as gifts.  Enjoy!

“A wise bear always keeps a marmalade sandwich in his hat in case of an emergency”
~ A Bear Called Paddington ~

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Mince pies

Well it is that time of year and Christmas would not be Christmas without a mince pie.  Mince pies do not last long in our house especially when all the boys are at home.  I tend to vary how I make my mince pies over the course of Christmas sometimes using plain pastry (a combination of 2 parts flour to 1 part butter and a pinch of salt brought together with a little water) sometimes I make sweet pastry (by adding an egg and some sugar to the pastry mix).  However, today I decided to make almond pastry which is lovely and crumbly and goes very nicely with the mincemeat.

Nothing can really beat a homemade mince pie, particularly when it is served with a little cream or brandy butter (a combination of softened butter, icing sugar and a splash of brandy).  If you have the time, do make the pastry by hand as it will make it far more crumbly and it won’t run the risk of being ‘overworked’!

If you think you are going to be short of time over Christmas, you could always prepare a batch of mince pies in advance and freeze them – if you do this, don’t glaze them with egg and sugar before placing them in the freezer, do it just before you put them in the oven (make sure you take them out of the freezer at least an hour before cooking so that they can come up to room temperature beforehand.

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Homemade pesto and a quick pesto pasta

On Monday we had our first frost.  My heart sank when I stepped outside and saw that our basil plant was not looking at all happy.  I thought we had lost it all, but as I cut away the bits that had been most effected I realised about a third of the plant had survived.  So there was no other choice than to harvest the leaves and make something with them.

Earlier in the year we picked, shelled and froze a couple of kilos of hazelnuts, so I decided to see how they would work in a pesto rather than the normal pine nuts.  I had no idea how easy it was to make pesto before yesterday provided you have a food processor.  I have decided it is definitely something that I am going to try to make more often when I have the herbs available as it tasted so much better than the shop bought ones I normally get.

I tried out the pesto in a pasta dish that I knocked together last night using a few bits and bobs I found in the fridge.  It seemed to bring all of the flavours together and wasn’t at all overpowering.  Whilst the pesto worked well with the pasta, I am looking forward to seeing how it works as a marinade with lamb in the next couple of weeks.

 

Homemade Pesto

Ingredients:

  • 150g hazelnuts
  • 50g walnuts
  • 75g parmesan
  • 50g basil leaves
  • 25g parsley
  • 10-15 chive stalks
  • wine glass of olive oil (and more for preserving)
  • seasoning

Steps:

1.  Place the nuts in a food processor and blitz until they become crumbs.

2.  Add the rest of the ingredients to the food processor and blitz until you have the consistency you are looking for.  Add a little more olive oil if the mix is too dry and make sure you taste it to see if it needs more seasoning.

3.  Store your pesto in a sterilized jam jar, cover with some olive oil and keep in your fridge.

 

Quick Pesto Pasta

Ingredients:

  • pasta (75g-100g per person)
  • 100g chorizo (diced)
  • 50g lardons
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 1 sweet red pepper (diced)
  • 1 mushroom (diced)
  • handful of green beans (cut into 1” pieces)
  • 2tbsp homemade pesto
  • olive oil (for cooking with)

Steps:

1.  Cook the pasta according to the instructions whilst you are preparing the other ingredients.

2.  Cook the onions and lardons in a saucepan with a little oil until the onions are soft.

3.  Add the chorizo, pepper, mushroom and beans and cook for 5-7 minutes.


   

4.  Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and add it to the saucepan along with the pesto and stir until everything is combined.  Then serve.

 

 

Spinach, Chorizo and Ricotta Cannelloni

I have been thinking about wanting to make this recipe for a while.  However, the thing that has been holding me from making it is the fact that the Old Man does not like spinach.  This is a slight problem when it is the main ingredient.  So I had to come up with an idea that made the meal appealing to him.  Then it dawned on me that perhaps adding Chorizo might distract him sufficiently enough to get him to try it.  The idea worked better than I could have ever hoped, the Old Man actually gave the pasta the thumbs up!  Success!

I am not going to try and disguise the fact that this recipe involves a lot of ingredients but my advice is to be methodical when you approach it and it will all come together.  I got a little bit of help when I was piping the filling into the cannelloni shells as it made it a lot easier and less messy!

This recipe involves using a tomato puree for the base layer.  I had made tomato puree from scratch a couple of weeks ago when we were inundated with tomatoes, so I used it in this recipe.  Making the puree from scratch was time consuming and I am not altogether sure it was that cost effective; despite the fact it tasted good.  (For those of you who are interested I have included my recipe for tomato puree at the end.)

 

Spinach, Chorizo and Ricotta Cannelloni

Ingredients: (Serves 4-5 people)

Base:

  • 2 tbsp tomato puree or tomato pesto
  • 20-25 cherry tomatoes (halved)

Pasta and Filling:

  • 18-20 cannelloni shells
  • 2 medium onions (diced)
  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 100g chorizo (diced)
  • 400g fresh spinach leaves (washed)
  • 250g ricotta
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • seasoning
  • oil (for cooking with)

Sauce:

  • 1 ½ oz butter
  • handful plain flour
  • 1pt milk
  • ½ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • Seasoning

Topping:

  • handful of grated cheese (emmental or cheddar)
  • black pepper
  • freshly ground nutmeg

Steps:

1.  Preheat oven to 180C fan.

2.  Spread the ingredients for the “base” on the bottom of a large ovenproof dish (I used a dish that was 20cmx30cm). 

3.  Now prepare the filling for your pasta.  Place the onions, garlic, chorizo, thyme and oil in a large saucepan and allow to soften.

4.  Add the spinach to the pan and allow to wilt down.

5.  Place the ingredients from the pan, the ricotta and seasoning into a food processor and blitz until the spinach is broken down and the filling is fairly smooth.

    

6.  Place the filling into a piping bag (I used a freezer bag that I had cut one corner off).

7.  Dunk each cannelloni shell into a bowl of water before piping in some of the filling. (It was at this stage I found it helpful to have an extra pair of hands).

8.  Place the filled shells on top of the base.

9.  Now you need to make your sauce.  Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the flour and stir until you have a paste.

10.  Slowly add your milk stirring continuously so that you have a smooth lump free sauce.

11.  Add the nutmeg and season well.

12.  Once your sauce has thickened slightly pour over your pasta (if you are worried about it being too thick add a little more milk to your sauce).

   

13.  Finally, scatter over the toppings before placing in the oven and cooking for 30-35 minutes.

14.  I would recommend eating this with a freshly made green or tomato salad. Enjoy!

 

 

Tomato Puree

Ingredients:

  • 15-20 large tomatoes
  • a glug of olive oil (for cooking with and preserving with)
  • salt

Steps:

1.  Wash the tomatoes well, then remove the core and as many of the seeds as possible.

2.  Roughly chop the tomatoes, place in a large saucepan with some olive oil, cook on a low heat for 30-45 minutes.

3.  Pass the tomatoes through a sieve into a deep roasting tray.

4.  Season with salt, add another glug of oil and place in an oven that you have preheated to 160C Fan for 2-3hrs until it is reduced, stirring occasionally.

5. Place in a sterilized pot and cover with some more olive oil.

 

Sweet chilli sauce

I don’t remember when I first came across sweet chilli sauce.  However, I know it made a real impression on me when I was back packing around Australia with a friend.  One of our staple meals that could be bought just about anywhere was nachos with sour cream and sweet chilli sauce.  It was great because it was cheap and filling – perfect when you are living on a budget.  However, it was not until we went trekking in Lamington National Park and stayed in a guest house that I discovered the wonders of sweet chilli sauce in a dip.  Since then I have never looked back.

I started trying to make sweet chilli sauce about a year ago.  The first attempt wasn’t a wild success because I didn’t let the liquid reduce enough, subsequently I had a very thin, runny syrup that tasted OK , but wasn’t quite right.  My last attempt worked much better as it was more the consistency of runny honey and I played around with the ingredients a bit and the flavour was really good, not too hot and not too sweet.

Last week I used a combination of the sweet chilli sauce, my Chinese plum sauce and soy sauce to form a marinade for a pork stir-fry.  When I made goat’s cheese pancakes the other day I tried one of them with a little of the sweet chilli sauce and they went together surprisingly well.  But the most common use for the sauce in our house is in dips.

 

Sweet Chilli Sauce

Ingredients: (makes roughly 750ml)

  • 600g sugar
  • 400ml water
  • 400ml cider vinegar
  • 4 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 2 hot chillies (finely diced)
  • 1 ½” ginger (peeled and finely grated)
  • 1 tsp salt and pepper

Steps:

  1. Place all the ingredients in a saucepan and place on a high heat.
  2. Bring it up to a rolling boil and leave it to reduce down until you have the consistency that you are looking for – then bottle.

A simple dip

Ingredients:

  • 3 heaped tbsp crème fraiche
  • 1-2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
  • pepper (to season)
  • 3 chive stalks, chopped (optional)

Steps:

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, season with pepper, taste and add more sweet chilli sauce if needed.
  2. Serve with carrot sticks, crisps etc.

Homemade mincemeat

Well our kitchen certainly smells like Christmas.  The Christmas cake is going to be baked this afternoon so that it can be fed with an (un)healthy quantity booze over the course of the next couple of months before it is iced and presented on Christmas day.  The other thing that I have been making is mincemeat.  I have never made it before, however when I discovered a jar of absolutely delicious home-made mincemeat that had been maturing gently for several years at the back of my grandmother’s store cupboard I felt I really had better give it a go.

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Apple and rosemary jelly…

Apple and Rosemary Jelly is one of, if not the most popular accompaniment to a meal in our house.  It is a recipe that Mumsy started using when we were kids – I remember going out searching for crab apples on country lanes around where we grew up, for use in the jelly.  Over the years the recipe has been refined by Mumsy and it is great.

I have taken jars of the apple and rosemary jelly to every house that I have lived in and it has always been well received.  I was once informed by a friend of mine that it was the most versatile condiment they’d ever tried…  As a family we tend to eat it with pork, chicken, rabbit (really what I am getting at – is it goes very well with white meats) though I have seen people eat it with a ploughman’s lunch or as an accompaniment to cheese.

Up until yesterday I had never made the jelly myself is because throughout the years Mumsy has kept my cupboards so well stocked with apple and rosemary jelly that I have never had the need to do so.  However, yesterday afternoon I made my first attempt.  Under the watchful eye of Mumsy, we headed into the kitchen for a cooking session of industrial proportions.

This recipe requires a jelly bag.  Mumsy and I were discussing alternatives as not everyone has one (me included) and came up with the following options:  use an old tea towel, double up a piece of muslin or cheese cloth.

Apple and Rosemary Jelly

Ingredients:

Stage 1 – before straining:

  • 2.5 kg cooking apples (roughly chopped into small chunks – no need to peel or core)
  • 1 litre water
  • 1 litre cider vinegar

Stage 2 – after straining:

  • To every ½ litre of liquid add 600g sugar
  • 2 good sprigs of Rosemary (sterilized in boiling water)
Stage 3 – once potted up:

  • Small sprig of rosemary for each pot (sterilized in boiling water)

 

Steps:

Stage 1:

  1. Put the apples and water into a large saucepan cover with a lid, place on a low heat and leave to cook, stirring occasionally until the apples are soft and have broken down into an apple sauce consistency.
  2. Then add the vinegar to the pan and simmer for a further 5 minutes, before removing from the heat.
  3. Place all the apple mixture into a jelly bag and strain out the liquid by suspending the bag over a container making sure the hook you use is strong enough to support the weight!  (We tend to leave the mixture to strain overnight).

Stage 2:

  1. Once all the liquid has drained out you will need to measure how much you have so you can calculate how much sugar you will need as per the quantities above.
  2. Place the apple liquid, the rosemary sprigs and roughly ¾ of the sugar in a pan.  Place on a medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved.  Then carefully taste the jelly mixture and add more of the sugar that you held back depending on how sweet/bitter the apples were and according to your preferences.
  3. Once you are happy with the flavour, bring the jelly mixture up to a rolling boil.  After about 10 minutes remove the rosemary sprigs.
  4. Continue cooking until you reach setting point.  (Test – by putting a little of the jelly onto a plate, leaving it to cool and see if it sets).
  5. Once the jelly is at setting point, skim off any scum on the jelly and then pot up.

Stage 3:

  1. Before sealing the jars, place a small sprig of rosemary in each pot, pushing it gently under the jelly.

[Note – for some reason this year (probably a result of a very hot summer) our jelly was incredibly sweet and a little anaemic in colour; so we added probably around 150ml more vinegar to our mix and about 2 heaped tablespoons of soft dark brown sugar to improve the colour at stage 2.]

The Beekeepers Apprentice

This year I have undertaken the role of a beekeeper’s apprentice as my father has a small apiary at the bottom of one of our fields.  At the start of the year we had three hives which required very little attendance, other than making sure they had enough syrup during the cold winter months.  The fun really started when around April when the decision was made to artificially divide the hives in the hope that this would stop the hive from splitting and then swarming later in the year.  Well… that was the theory…

I spotted the first swarm on the first truly hot day of the year in the middle of May, fortunately my father was in the house when it happened, and with his help and guidance together we caught the swarm in a box – before then re-housing it in a ruchette (little hive).  The following day there were two more swarms.  So once again we donned our bee-suits and caught them both before once again re-housing the swarms in separate ruchettes.  I vividly remember half way through rehousing the second swarm (which is done by placing a white sheet in front of the ruchette with a plank of wood leading up to the entrance – so they can quite literally walk into their new home once you’ve upended the box of bees on to the sheet) my father turning to me and asking me if I could try to spot and then catch the queen (please bear in mind there tend to be thousands of bees in a swarm) whilst he popped back to the barn to get something.  I set about this task during his absence and with the help of the workers bees who tend to bow with their tails in the air when a queen is in close proximity, I managed to catch not just one queen but five queens (please note this is NOT normal).  After a lot of deliberation we decided to let all the queens go and watched them all head on up into the Ruchette – which with the joy of hindsight and a little bit of research on Google was entirely the wrong thing to do.

I suspect you might have already guessed what happened next…

 

       

The following day when both my parents were out at a friend’s birthday lunch, I popped down to check the hives at midday to find three swarms.  With no option other than to catch the swarms myself I armed myself with the swarm catching kit (aka 2 wine boxes and a wicker waste paper basket) and set about catching and attempting to re-house each of the swarms.  To say I had one or two problems was an understatement!  One of the swarms decided they did not want to enter the new ruchette but instead they would rather remain in the wooden box – so after two attempts I decided to leave them in the box.  One of the swarms did enter the ruchette but two hours later decided they would rather swarm again and  take up residence on a branch 3 metres away.  So I had to catch and re-house them twice.  As for the third swarm that was placed in the wicker basket I decided after all the excitement of the second swarm I would leave them be (excuse the pun) until my father’s return.

Similar events occurred the following weekend (typically when my parents were away visiting friends leaving me in charge of the smallholding and all its occupants).  Below is an email I sent to my father whilst he was away to update him on the “Bee situation”…

To: Dad

Subject:  Bees

Dear Dad

 Well this is how yesterday went.  Saw big swarm – put it in a box very easily.  Went to get Ruchette, with Susan’s [A Beekeeping Friend who was somewhat of a life saver] help kitted it all out and went and put them in the box.   Meanwhile another sneaky swarm was forming so after rehousing the first, went and put 2nd swarm in box.  Left them until 7pm – both swarms were still in situ so I rang Susan!  Susan had fortunately just reorganised her bees, so told me to pop over and collect her display hive.  She gave me more wax and cardres…  I then came home and sorted it all out, and put the bees to bed – which was in fact a much bigger swarm by the time all the bees had gone into the box than I would have thought.  So I then put those bees to bed (please note as I did so I saw what looked like a new young queen – who must have gone into the ruchette as the bees flooded in…)

So this morning, I am going to remove one of the feeders from a ruchette and give it to the second new swarm.  Will look at the big hive at the same time…

Love Ant

P.S  I dislike your bees immensely right now!!!

P.P.S Lambs and I are not on speaking terms as they have taken a chunk out of my index finger.

After all the excitement of the swarms during May, things calmed down considerably and the only thing that needed to be done to the hive was place a super on top to allow the bees to start making their honey which they have been doing all summer.  At the end of last week it was decided that the honey harvest was to happen and so, over the course of one afternoon, we spun the honey out of the frames using a centrifuge which has left us with roughly 82kg of honey…

I apologise for the length of the blog and don’t blame anyone who scrolls straight down to the recipes, which surprise, surprise involve honey as an ingredient…  Over the last couple of days I have made a number of dishes but there are really two that stood out.  The first was a play on an upside down cake and the second can really only be described as a fancy cheese on toast starter.  But without further ado here are the recipes.

Honey, Reine Claude Plum and Apple Upside Down Cake (Serves 8-12)


Ingredients:

  • 5 eggs
  • 250g cooking margarine
  • 250g sugar
  • 300g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 cardamom pods (shells removed and seeds crushed)
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 15 plums (stoned and halved) – I used Reine Claude
  • 2 medium apples (peeled, cored and sliced)
  • 5-6 tbsp honey (runny)

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 160C fan.  Line and grease a 30cm cake tin.
  2. In a bowl, beat to together the margarine and sugar until soft.
  3. Add the eggs to the mixture slowly (adding a little flour if the eggs start to curdle).
  4. Add the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, cardamom and beat together thoroughly.
  5. Pour the honey into the bottom of the cake tin, using the back of a spoon to help evenly spread the honey around the bottom of the tin.
  6. Add the fruit in the pattern you would like (remember it will become the top of your cake).
  7. Finally pour over the batter and place in the over for approximately 50 minutes (or until a skewer comes out clean).
  8. Serve with crème fraiche.

Fancy Cheese on Toast (Serves 3)

Ingredients:

  • 6 pieces of melba toast
  • 100g soft goats cheese
  • small handful sliced almonds
  • 6 fresh coriander leaves
  • 1 ½ tsp runny honey
  • Black pepper (seasoning)

Steps:

  1. Cut the cheese into 6 slices.  Place a slice of the cheese onto each of the melba toasts.  Place under a hot grill for 1 minute.
  2. Whilst the cheese is under the grill, heat the almonds in a frying pan on a hot heat for around 1 minute.
  3. Remove the cheese on toast from the grill and plate up – by placing two of the toasts on each plate, scatter over a few almonds, drizzle over ½ tsp of honey, place a coriander leaf on each of the toasts and season with black pepper.  Then serve quickly so you can enjoy them whilst they are still warm.

There may have been tears at the start but it was worth it in the end…

No, for those who are wondering I am not an emotional wreck today, I have merely been cutting onions.  Over the years I have pretty much tried everything to stop the tears flowing when cutting onions including: wearing glasses, sticking out my tongue and putting a spoon in my mouth, but in the end it always seems more hassle than it’s worth and it doesn’t always work.  Subsequently, for roughly five minutes this morning as I peeled some red onions I had tears running down my cheeks.

Today I have been trying to recreate a Red Onion & Port Marmalade that I made two weeks ago on a bit of a whim.  I had seen some red onions for sale in the market which looked pretty good, so I thought why not try something new that would work well with cheese – the end result was a red onion & port marmalade.  The major problem I have in the kitchen when I try out a new recipe is I never write down what it is I am doing especially quantities of ingredients (this is partly because I largely cook by eye and by tasting things regularly).  So when the first of the 3 pots of the onion marmalade was opened and finished in less than a day last week and the second pot quickly disappeared too, I thought I had better try and work out what exactly I did before all memory of what I’d done disappeared.

The first thing I should mention is that in the first batch I made, I used up a rather old bottle of port that had been lying around for years called Sao Pedro (aged for 10) years which had a lovely strong flavour and really good smell which really came out in the marmalade.  However, this morning I used a somewhat cheaper Tawny port, that was much sweeter and in my opinion far less fragrant.  But that being said they both have worked well despite tasting slightly different. So I would say depending on your budget or what you have left lying around it doesn’t really matter what type of port you use.

Red Onion & Port Marmalade

Ingredients:

  • 5tbsp olive oil
  • 2.4kg (weight after being peeled)
  • 2tsp thyme
  • 500g brown sugar
  • 250ml port and ½ small wine glass of port
  • 350ml balsamic vinegar
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper

Steps:

  1. Sterilise some jam jars ready for use once your onion marmalade is made.
  2. Finely slice the onions (I use a food processer to do this for ease).
  3. Place the olive oil in a large saucepan and warm on a low heat.
  4. Add the onions and half of the sugar to the pan and stir.  Cover with a lid and leave the onions to soften slowly, stirring occasionally.
  5. Once the onions are soft, add the thyme, salt and pepper, balsamic vinegar and the remaining sugar.  Turn up the heat a little and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally to make sure the mixture doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pan.
  6. After about 5-10 minutes add the port (keeping back the port in the wine glass as you’ll need this later) and stir together.
  7. Now it is a waiting game, as you stir your pan occasionally until the liquid has reduced down so there is only a little liquid left in the pan.
  8. When you think your onion marmalade is almost ready give it a little taste to see if it needs a little more seasoning, before you add the remaining port (if you think it needs it) that you have held back in the wine glass, stir the port in and cook for a further 5-10 minutes before removing from the heat and placing in the sterilised jam jars for storing.

Ideas for what to serve the Red Onion & Port Marmalade with…

All of the ideas I have for the Red Onion & Port Marmalade involve cheese as that is what I originally had in mind when I first made it.  I made both of the following recipes as a starter as they were good to share amongst a large number of people…

Goats Cheese and Red Onion & Port Marmalade Tarts (makes 4 small tarts)

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet of pre-rolled puff pastry
  • 200g of soft goats cheese (remove any rind)
  • 14-16 cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • 4 heaped tsp of the red onion & port marmalade
  • Olive oil for drizzling
  • Black pepper for seasoning
  • 1 small egg

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 190C fan.
  2. Lightly flour 4 individual tart tins (12cm diameter).
  3. Roughly cut the puff pastry into four pieces and place in the tart tins.
  4. Spread 1 heaped teaspoon of the onion marmalade on the bottom of each of the individual tarts.
  5. Cut the goats cheese into small chunks and distribute equally between the tarts along with the cherry tomatoes, drizzle over a little olive oil and add a little black pepper.
  6. Finally beat the egg in a small bowl and using a pastry brush, lightly brush some of the egg wash over the exposed pastry.
  7. Place in the oven and cook for 10-12 minutes (until the pastry is golden brown and the cheese is melted).

Baked Cheese Parcel served with Red Onion & Port Marmalade

Ingredients:

Cheese Parcel:

  • 1 packet of pre-rolled puff pastry
  • 500g wheel of either Coulommiers, Brie or Camembert (depending on what type of cheese you like most)
  • 1 egg
Serve with:

  • Red Onion & Port Marmalade
  • French bread
  • Carrot batons

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 190C fan.
  2. Using a fork prick the top of the cheese you are using 6 times through to the middle of the cheese.
  3. Place the cheese in the centre of the pastry.
  4. You now need to make the cheese into a parcel, I do this by cutting the pastry into 8 segments and then folding the gently into the middle of the cheese and cutting off any excess.
  5. Finally beat the egg in a small bowl and using a pastry brush, lightly brush some of the egg wash all over the pastry.
  6. Place in the oven and cook for 20-22 minutes (until the pastry is golden brown and the cheese is melted).
  7. Remove from the oven and serve with the red onion & port marmalade, french bread and carrot batons.

 

BBQ marinades and recipes

It is so hot outside – the heat-wave is well and truly here!  Right now I think it is about 41C outside, subsequently, having a BBQ for lunch was really the only option.   All the family are here this week, which means big quantities of food are needed.  Having raided the deep-freeze last night for various types of meat, this morning all I had to do was make some marinades.  Deciding what marinade for the chicken would be was a no-brainer – honey and mustard is a classic marinade we have used on chicken legs for years, because the honey caramelises so nicely on a BBQ.  The more important question was what to marinade the spare ribs in?  I woke up this morning thinking some sort of Chinese plum sauce might be nice, but unfortunately we didn’t have any already made up, so I decided to try and make it.  The result was a sticky plum sauce that worked really nicely.   To balance out the vast quantity of meat I decided that vegetable skewers might not be a bad idea.  Aside from the plum sauce that took about an hour to make (but now that’s done I have 7 big jars of the stuff ready for use later in the year) the rest of the preparation for the BBQ took no time at all.

I am pleased to say that there was hardly any scraps left over from the BBQ other than a few bits of salad, so all in all a job well done by all members of the family.

ImageChinese Plum Sauce

Ingredients

  • 3kg of plums – stoned and halved (I used Prune d’Agen)
  • 4 garlic cloves – crushed
  • 900g white sugar
  • 300ml cider vinegar
  • 200ml soya sauce
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1tsp pepper
  • 2” fresh ginger – peeled and grated
  • ½tsp cloves – crushed into a powder
  • 2 small dried chillies – chopped finely

Steps:

  1. Place all the ingredients in a large sauce pan and mix well together, place on a medium heat and bring up to the boil.
  2. Leave on a rolling boil for roughly 40 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the fruit catching on the bottom of the pan.
  3. After boiling for 40 minutes – remove from the heat and allow to cool a little before blending the mixture with either a handheld blender or a liquidizer.
  4. Place back in the pan and bring back up to the boil.
  5. Leave the sauce to boil for roughly 5 minutes before placing in sterilized jars.

ImageSpare Ribs in Chinese Plum Sauce (fed 8 people very well / if a little too well)

Ingredients:

  • 2kg Spare ribs
  • 400ml Chinese plum sauce

Steps:

  1. Preheat your oven to 160C fan.
  2. Place ribs on an oven tray and pour over half the plum sauce, making sure that each rib has got the sauce on each side.
  3. Cover with tin-foil and place in the oven for 40 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven and set to one side until your BBQ is hot.
  5. Once your BBQ is ready, place the ribs meat side down and place some of the remaining sauce on the back of the ribs, let the ribs cook for about 3-4 minutes or until nicely caramelised, then turn over and do the same again.
  6. Just before you are ready to serve turn the ribs one last time and cook for just a minute.

Image

Chicken in Honey and Mustard

Ingredients:

  • 10-12 Chicken legs
  • 3tbsp runny honey
  • 3tbsp whole grain mustard

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 190C.
  2. Mix together the honey and mustard in a bowl.
  3. Place the chicken on an oven proof dish and pour over the mixture, making sure that all of the legs are coated.
  4. Cover with tin foil and place in the oven for about 20-25 minutes.
  5. Remove the tin foil and cook for a further 5-10 minutes until the chicken is cooked or the juices run clear.
  6. Once your BBQ is hot place the chicken legs on the BBQ for 4-5 minutes on both sides to give it that nice BBQ flavour.

ImageVegetable Skewers

Ingredients:

  • 1 Aubergine
  • 1 ½ Red Peppers
  • 1 Green Pepper
  • 1 Red Onion
  • 4 Courgettes
  • Juice of 1 Lemon
  • 1 tsp dried coriander leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves crushed
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper for seasoning

Steps:

  1. Cut all the vegetables into bit sized chunks and place in a large dish.
  2. Squeeze over the juice of the lemon, scatter over the coriander leaves and garlic and finally pour over the olive oil.  Mix everything together well and then make up your skewers ordering the vegetables as you please.
  3. Once your BBQ is hot place on your skewers, turning them regularly so that they don’t burn and cook for roughly 15 minutes.